TOKYO Dec 2 The U.S. Navy's first advanced P-8
Poseidon patrol aircraft has arrived in Japan, the start of a
deployment that will upgrade America's ability to hunt
submarines and other vessels in seas close to China as tension
in the region mounts.
The deployment, planned before China last month established
an air defense zone covering islands controlled by Japan and
claimed by Beijing, includes six aircraft to be delivered to
Kadena air base on Okinawa this month.
The first arrived on Sunday, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy
told Reuters. The mission in the waters west of Japan's main
islands will be the new aircraft's first anywhere.
The jet, built by Boeing Co based on its 737
passenger plane, has been built to replace the aging
propeller-powered Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion patrol
aircraft, which has been in service for 50 years.
Packed with the latest radar equipment and armed with
torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, the P-8 is able to fly further
and stay out on mission longer than the P-3.
The arrival of the P-8 came a day before U.S. Vice President
Joe Biden is due to arrive in Tokyo, a visit that is being
overshadowed by the territorial spat in the East China Sea
between Japan and China.
While taking no position on the sovereignty of the islands
known to the Japanese as the Senkakus and to the Chinese as the
Daioyu, it does recognize Japanese control and therefore part of
territory it would defend under a security pact with Japan.